the m john harrison blog

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elf land: the lost palaces

Eldranol the Elf Lord is wheeled to bed every night on a reinforced composite & titanium gurney. Two or three attendants lift the thick laps of flesh & lovingly clean out the sores down in the creamy, lardy folds where his genitals still nestle. He has lost some of his right foot to diabetes. The […]

in elf land

Over time the Elf Queen’s underjaw has thickened, while her chin has remained small & pointed, her nose turned up: so that you can see, embedded in fat, the adolescent she was fifteen hundred years ago. In her garden she keeps papery silver poppies & an iris which smells of chocolate; but since the Fall […]


  Winner, Goldsmiths Fiction Prize, 2020 “Unsettling and insinuating, fabulously alert to the spaces between things, Harrison is without peer as a chronicler of the fraught, unsteady state we’re in.” –Olivia Laing Shaw had a breakdown, but he’s getting himself back together. He has a single room, a job on a decaying London barge, and […]

in a hollow land

Tree surgeon Molly and his young assistant Nick find a dreyful of abandoned baby squirrels. Who will mercy-kill them with the edge of the spade? Nick winces away from the idea. He’s big with gym-built muscle but he’s not hard. The thing Molly hates most about him is not his emotional vulnerability, it’s the way […]

Cassandra’s memo to herself after laying out the cards

Events this overbearing leave you with the growing sense that unless you foreground them like everybody else, you have no position to speak from and no business speaking. But though I’m afraid of what’s happening, and deeply angry about the loss of the Postwar Settlement, I have no imaginative interest in the inevitable consequences, which […]

orpheus in the underland

There are so many good books around at the moment. Will Eaves’ Murmur, obviously, which won the Wellcome prize a few days ago, a triumph not just for the author but for Charles Boyle’s CBEditions, one of the smallest publishers in Britain. The Dollmaker by Nina Allen, reviewed here. Sandra Newman’s glitteringly imaginative time story, […]

pearl herself

Downstairs he told Pearl, the only person who’d spoken to him since he arrived, “It was weird.” “They’re all fucking weird here.” He had found her sitting on a window-sill on the second-floor landing, drinking from a bottle of Riesling and staring down into the garden as if calculating the possibilities of a sudden leap […]


As the weeks pass next door’s clock strikes louder & louder. Other people’s cancer & knee operations sharpen themselves into a clear narrative. Meanwhile the dogs poke their dignified noses through the hedge & you meet a very old woman cheerfully jogging up hill. “Just getting my legs going!” It’s even more interesting than the […]

in case she hurts herself

It’s so nice to hear from you. It feels as if we haven’t talked for ages. You write, “All along the Thames, boats are on their way to being islands, islands on their way to being boats.” Then something you overheard on the bank near Kew, a woman calling to her little girl: “’Don’t run!’ […]

self promotion

In this new story I address the usual themes. People sit on sofas, staring ahead; while at the edges of the room things shift inconclusively from one state to another. They may be real, they may be not. Meanwhile, in another part of the small Midlands village, Ms Suihne the plump medium who runs the […]